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What Is The Answer?

In response to those who feel rioting is justified:

I completely agree that there is a problem. A problem on both sides. I’m very fortunate to not know any “bad” cops. Yet, I am fully aware that they do exist in greater numbers than anyone cares to admit. Does it need to be addressed? Absolutely. However, my stance on the riots remains. There are how many peacefully protesting? Many. The few that are tearing apart their own neighborhood and businesses are accomplishing what, exactly? Taking even more needed money and jobs from their own community? Believe me, I’ve been OUTRAGED at many a thing in my life, but I have yet to physically attack anyone or damage their property. Should these people be frustrated and outraged? Yes, they should! Enough to do something about it? YES!

Is rioting the answer? I don’t believe so. If you can explain to me what issue the rioters’ violence resolves, I’ll be happy to give it due consideration.

And, by the way, these wrongful deaths don’t JUST happen to non-whites and they are not ONLY committed by whites. Is there still a race issue in some areas? Sadly, yes.  Should we do something about it?  Of course.

Is there a problem with crime?  A VERY big problem.  Do we need to make a stand against it?  You bet we do.  But, can we at least admit that criminals come in all colors, shapes, sizes, with little regard to religious, ethnic, or political background?

So, if outbursts of violence, theft, and property damage aren’t the answer, what is?  What can we do to turn this around?

I wish I could make all the problems go away for everyone.  Unfortunately, I can’t, no matter how hard I wish for it.

I know too many people who have come from bad neighborhoods, poverty, broken families, and various other “handicaps” that have gone on to overcome it all.  What pushed them forward?  Determination that they would not fall victim to being defined by their “handicaps”.  Self respect drove them to become the people they wanted to be.  Many had at least one person in their lives that truly believed in them and offered encouragement.

While I believe that in EVERY neighborhood, we need to provide better education, more jobs, and more crime control… I also believe that it takes people who WANT to have a better life.  If a person believes their best, or easiest, option is to be a criminal, that’s all they’ll ever be, no matter what other options are available to them.

So… what is the answer?

I’d say it starts with parents SHOWING and TEACHING their children good work ethics, respect for themselves and others, and to believe.  Believe that they can do better.  Believe that they can be better.

What do you think?

Reflections of 2014

As one year closes and another begins anew, we always find ourselves reflecting.  Looking back… and, looking forward.

We, of course, hope that any unpleasantness is left far behind in the old year and that we will have bestowed upon us a bounty of blessings in the new year.

2014 was a wonderful year in many personal aspects and I truly hope that 2015 will only bring more joy.

It was a year, along with many in the past, that held sorrows from loss.  Deaths of loved ones, lost friendships, missed opportunities, and the pain of burdens carried.  This past year brought about challenges, both difficult and empowering.  It created growth and enlightenment in many areas.  The year was full of changes that were both scary and exhilarating at the same time.  Sadness and joy were at every corner.  Choices were made with the best intentions at heart.

And, I have to say… I think we did okay.

In fact, under the circumstances and starting from little to nothing, I feel that we did more than okay.  Much more than okay.  We still have so far to go, but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in 2014.  So while in many ways I see the year as a disaster worldwide, personally, I’m putting it in the win column for us.

We became more financially stable, to a degree.  Is anything ever really stable?  I can’t tell you how gratifying it was to more easily meet the needs of our family and to randomly be able to help others in various ways.  That’s very important to us.  Obviously, providing for our family comes first, but it’s such a wonderful feeling to be able to do a little something for someone in need.  We’ve been there.  We know what it means for someone to reach out, even when the last thing you WANT to do is take from others.  We’ve had NOTHING so we really do understand the blessing of receiving, no matter how small.  Being wealthy is nowhere in the cards, but getting by is so much easier these days and I’m so thankful for that.  It’s a very peaceful feeling and I’m grateful.  Besides, our wealth comes from much more than just our bank account.

Our relationship is stronger than ever.  Our love is deeper than I’ve ever felt.  We work together to make things happen.  We share the same beliefs, faith, and dreams.  We encourage each other.  We lean on each other.  We keep each other grounded.  And, we enjoy each other.  We keep no secrets from one another and it’s easy to trust each other.  One’s fear is the other’s confidence.  One’s weakness is the other’s strength.  We fit together perfectly.  We have an ease with each other that neither of us has ever experienced with anyone before.  We don’t argue, we discuss.  To be truthful, I’m not sure we ever REALLY even get mad at each other.  We learn from each other and we share every emotion and experience we encounter.  Separately, we are flawed and unraveled.  Together… we are one perfect love.

Our family is doing well, even when encountering setbacks.  To be honest, I think our biggest complaint at the moment is being in such a tiny home and not having anywhere close to enough space for all of us and the things we need.  I love this street (dirt road), mainly because there’s so few people living on it and we’re surrounded on three sides by wooded areas.  Our neighbors are all in front of us.  And, they’re good neighbors.  It’s a quiet neighborhood with friendly people.  And, it’s very comforting knowing that Zac has a “second family” with his best friend right across the street from us.  A few streets up and over is a local pharmacy that has a basketball hoop that the kids play at.  Dairy Queen, Huddle House, and the convenient store are close enough for the kids to walk to.  (Because, you know, allowances burn holes if left in the pockets too long.)  There’s room in most yards for them to play football.  The boys camp, hunt, and hike in the woods all around us.  There is only one middle school and high school in the entire county, and since we’re in the county seat, they’re close by.  Everyone seems to be deeply rooted here and it’s fun learning everyone’s connections to each other.

We live “in town”, but we’re still very much in the “country”.  And, it’s great.  We’re close to all the little stores, local bank, post office, etc.  But, neighbors have chickens that roam freely and visit house to house.  (Which is cool as long as they’re not eating the cats’ food.)  We have room for our dogs to run and play and roll around in the grass.  The cats enjoy hunting squirrels and birds.  Rabbits and deer are spotted on a regular basis throughout the year.  During the summer, we get to enjoy crickets serenading and lightnin’ bugs glowing in the night.  During the winter, the sound of the trains passing less than a block from us to the east echoes even louder through the crisp air.  We have to drive at least 30 miles to get to any type of store or restaurant of size, but it’s a straight shot and no traffic.  Even in the bigger towns closest to us, the biggest traffic jams are laughable compared to driving in Tampa at the least busiest times of day.

There’s really only one major goal for us to achieve.

Our dream is to one day own some of the land next to us to build a farm.  We’d love to have a big farmhouse with a fishing pond, barn, workshop, animals, swimming pond or pool, gardens of vegetables and flowers, a football field for the boys to practice, and lots of woods for ATV’s, dirt bikes, hunting, and camping, a kitchen big enough for cooking large family meals, and a wrap-around porch to take in all the beauty of country living.  We’d love to be able to raise enough food to help our neighbors near and far.  We’d love to rescue animals.  We’d love to help out our little community in every way possible.  This would be a place that our family and friends would always feel welcomed and at home.  Yes, this is a BIG dream.  But, the crazy thing about dreams is you just never know when they may come true.  Until then, we’ll just keep moving forward and working to make it happen.


One day.

So… what I choose to take with me from 2014 is hope.  Hope that we will continue to thrive.  Hope that our love will continue to grow.  Hope that our generosity is allowed to increase.  Hope that we continue to make friends.  Hope that we’re able to do more and more for our family and those we hold dear.

Hope that we will, one day, make our dream come true.  Together.


Thanksgiving 2014

I slacked this year big time.  I did not do my “30 Days Of Thanks”.  I’m a bad girl.  I know.

But, that doesn’t mean that I’m any less thankful for all the blessings I have in my life.

I’m thankful for my family more and more each passing year.  We have adored each other, fought each other, and not spoken to each other… usually all at the same time.  But, we never stop loving each other and appreciating how lucky we are.  Each of them holds such a deep and special place in my heart and I can’t imagine my life without any of them.  Okay, I do fantasize how quiet it might be sometimes, but I’d be lost without them and they know it.

I’m grateful for my friends.  I have some truly special friends that I love as much as my family.  I thank God they have given me the honor of their friendship.  I don’t even want to know where I’d be without their love, support, and encouragement.  I feel so sad for those that have few or no real friends to speak of.  It breaks my heart to think about so many people being lonely… especially during a holiday.

I gripe a lot about where we live and how I dream of us having our own farm and a real HOME.  But, I know we’re lucky to have a place to live at all.  It may not feel like “home”, but it’s a roof over our heads with a place to sleep out of the cold.  And, we’re TOGETHER.

I’m very thankful that our money situation has improved.  We’re not wealthy by any means, but we’re doing it on our own and usually have a little (very little) left over after all the bills are paid.  And, they are paid on time.  I can’t tell you how great that feels!  We were able to save some to have a Christmas this year for the first time in several years.  I’m very, very thankful for that.  We’ve been able to help others out here and there again.  THAT is a most wonderful feeling!  In fact, I believe I am most thankful for that this year than just about anything.

If you get the chance to share your celebration with someone who might be alone, do it!  If you can feed someone who might not have a meal this Thanksgiving, or any day for that matter, do it!  If you find yourself being alone or hungry, please reach out.. whether to us or anyone.  Let’s make each other’s lives better.  More fulfilling.  More enjoyable.  More loving.

Thank you for being in my life.  Thank you for sharing your love with me.  Thank you… for being YOU.

Happy Thanksgiving.


I haven’t posted my thoughts on this because, frankly, I’m sure I’ll lose several friends over this. Also, I haven’t wanted to get into a heated debate about racism. I love ALL my friends, regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.

I find all death sad, and most are unnecessary.

In light of the continued riots in the name of Michael Brown, this is my response.

My heart breaks for his family.  As a mother, I can only imagine the devastation Michael Brown’s mother must be feeling over losing her son.

Could all of this have been handled differently?  I’m sure it could have… by EVERYONE involved.  Am I blaming the victim or his family for what happened?  No.  Was I there?  Do I know all the details of what took place that fateful day?  No, and no.

What I feel most strong about is that this is an issue that is being dealt with all wrong in every way.

What does his color have to do with it? THAT is why racism is still flourishing.  PEOPLE kill people everyday and we only get upset when it’s someone of a different race?  That’s absurd!  We should be upset that it occurs at all.  We should be outraged that crime is so overwhelming in the first place.  We should become enraged by our neighborhoods being overrun by thugs and gangs.  We need to put the anger where it belongs.

This is an issue about CRIME… not race.

If you’ll notice, it’s a mixture of people rioting together.  There are different races involved in protesting.  By the way, rioting and protesting are two entirely different things.  Protesting is a right we Americans possess.  Rioting is a CRIME.

Michael Brown was not a “child”. He obviously felt adult enough to commit crimes. It’s sad that he is dead and that his family has to grieve him. That is the part that is most unfair. But, he did what he did. And, the violence occurring because of the outcome is beyond disrespectful to his family, or even him. And, where were all these people when he obviously needed help in choosing another path in life?

Where were all these people?

Why were they not involved in helping youth make good decisions about their future?  Why are they only showing up after the tragedy?  These people seem concerned for this young man’s well-being, yet they were nowhere to be found when it mattered most.  Why?  Why do we become so vocal in the aftermath, yet were so silent when we could have made a difference?

Why are we not using this loss of life to help prevent it from happening again?

Instead, there are riots in the streets.  There is more crime than ever.  People are losing their businesses that had nothing to do with this.  Property and life is being taken as retaliation for something that should have been prevented.  The onslaught of violence as an answer to this is beyond ridiculous!  I feel for the people caught in the middle of it.  I feel for the ones that are being made to pay the cost of retribution for a crime they didn’t commit.  I especially feel for the family trying to mourn their loss.  In fact, I even feel for the people who are obviously so disillusioned that they feel the need to act out in such a way as to steal, burn down buildings, and beat people to death.  I feel for the law enforcement officers having to walk into all of this and try to restore some sort of peace while also fearing for their lives.

How is rioting the answer?  It’s NOT!

And, the people inciting more violence should be held accountable!  The ones that have a voice should be calling for peace.  The ones that have money and time should be putting into place a system that will help turn young lives around to have a better future.

For God’s sake, people, you’re better than this.  You’re too smart to not see that violence will only lead to more unnecessary deaths… and, more families grieving the loss of a loved one.

STOP IT!  Make a difference for those still living… those still with a future ahead of them… those that are following in your footsteps and learning how to deal with tragedy and pain from YOU.

Those that can have a better tomorrow… starting TODAY.

Social Drama

Drama on Facebook is exhausting. Just reading about the same people whining about the same things is tiring. *sigh* We all have our issues. I get that. I’ve had plenty of my own. Some days are better for us than others. I know. I also know what it’s like to get stuck in a rut that feels like it will never end.  I really do know.

So, here’s my thing. Let’s try to find something positive to focus on each day. Each hour, if you need to. Let’s do this together. Let me know what I can do to help. I want to help. Honestly. If you’re on my Facebook or Twitter feed, then I consider you family or friend and I care. That means I want to keep you as a friend and not have to hide your posts in order to avoid negativity. I know a lot of you are going to think this is directed at you when it isn’t and those of you it is directed at probably won’t have a clue.

But, seriously, I know not everyday is a great day. I know we need to rant, vent, cry, and whine in between the jokes, quizzes, photos, and birthday wishes.  It’s okay.  Most of the time.  But, some people…  just seem to be stuck in this perpetual vacuum of negativity and neediness.  Is it for attention?  Is it a cry for help?  Is it your way of reaching out or sharing yourself?  Let’s do some soul-searching and figure out why so we can work on that.

Everyone needs help at one point or another.  Some, just a little help for a very short period of time.  Others, a LOT of help for a while.  I understand this.  Been there.  And, I’ve certainly done my share of posting about it.  But, I’ve always TRIED to mix in something positive, sometimes more successfully than others.

What I’m saying is, it’s okay to share that you’re going through a rough time.  Just don’t let yourself get stuck in that place.

Don’t allow the negativity to consume you.

And, for the love of God, don’t make it the reason for attention.

Bitch, cry, rant & rave, beg for help if you need it… but, don’t that let be who you become.  There’s more to you than the bad things that happen in life.  Some of us seem to have more than our share of bad luck and it can be frustrating, even overwhelming at times.  Trust me, I completely feel you on this.  But, we’re better than all the bad things.  We.  Are.  Better.

So, please… please, please, please… let’s try to help each other be the best we can be.

Oh, and if you’re negative just because you’re a whiny little bitch and receive pleasure from sucking the energy out of everyone around you… Stop!

Zac’s Birthday

I swear his birthdays, and mine, come faster every year.

My youngest of three children will be 14 years old on the 12th of September.  He is certainly growing up.  Sometimes, he gets ahead of himself.  I know he’s responsible and very mature for his age, even wiser than his years, but… well, I wish he’d just slow down a bit.  He’s got his whole life to be an adult.  He only has a very short window to be a “kid”.  I want him to enjoy it.

I love that he laughs and is silly.  He’s always had a great sense of humor.  I love that when he’s unsure of something, he asks about it.  He eagerly learns all he can in any given conversation.  I love that he is so active and athletic.  He’s not afraid of getting hurt and always gives 100% of himself.  I love that he feels things so deeply.  He’s always been a very compassionate person and takes things very much to heart.

He’s a great son, friend, brother, grandson, student, and teammate.  He’s respectful, polite, generous, thoughtful, outgoing, intelligent, energetic, and determined.  He’s also funny, goofy, and loves to make people smile and laugh.  He has dreams.  Not just dreams, but goals.  Real goals.  He has a plan to attain those goals.  And, I can’t wait to see it all come to fruition.

He’s smart enough to surround himself with good friends that are caring, supportive, and encouraging.  It’s so wonderful seeing the closeness they share.

Zac has never had any sort of disciplinary problems at home or at school.  He’s so modest and humble that he doesn’t consider himself to be “smart”, yet he makes honor roll in a schedule of all honors classes.  Honestly, the worst this kid does is sometimes lolly gag when he’s told to clean his room or do homework.  He never talks back or refuses to do what he’s told… even if it does take him a bit to get it done.  (A LOT longer than I’d like, even.)

I’m grateful that he feels safe enough to discuss any subject with me.  I know that’s not easy for a teenager, especially a boy.  It’s certainly not always easy for me to hear what he has to tell me, but I’m ever so thankful that he does share it with me.  I pray that I give him the advice he needs to hear and that he’s strong enough to follow it.  I hope he understands that even when I’m upset, disappointed, hurt, or angry that I still love him more than any words could ever express.  And, I’m ever so appreciative of him being open and honest with me, even if it’s something that might embarrass him or make him feel uncomfortable… or… might make me mad.

I want him to know how proud of him I am.  I need him to know how loved he is.

I know it’s important for him to make his own mistakes in order to learn life lessons and to help shape him as a person.  But, as a parent, one of the hardest things to do is watch your child make a mistake and not be able to fix it for him.  It’s heart wrenching to see him hurt because of poorly chosen words and actions, either by himself or someone else.  It’s my job to protect him, yet I know that if I shelter him too much, he won’t be able to grow into the amazing man I know he’ll become.

So, I’ll just continue to hope and pray that I’ll have the right words when he needs them… … and, have faith that he’ll be strong enough and brave enough to make the wiser choices.

He really is a great kid.  I’m blessed beyond belief.

I know in my heart that he’ll do just fine.


How Do We See Each Other?

A friend of mine in a group I belong to has been posting daily tips and exercises for self-esteem.  In trying some of these exercises, I’ve learned some new things about myself.  In fact, I believe I may have learned something about most of us.

In some of these exercises, we’re asked to look at certain situations or people and see them in a non-judgmental way.  Some of them include strangers, others involve taking a very close look at someone more intimate.  And, then… there are the ones that involve looking at yourself.  YOU.  Yeah, you’re supposed to look at yourself in a non-judgmental way.  You’re supposed to see YOU without JUDGMENT.  Yikes.  That’s much, much harder than it sounds.  Maybe it shouldn’t be that difficult a task, but there it is… and, it’s a biggie.

The first thing I realized is that I don’t look at myself the way that I look at others.

It’s much easier for me to forgive others’ shortcomings.  It’s easier to give them the benefit of the doubt.  It’s easier for me to see their side of the story.  It’s easier to understand their mistakes as learning experiences.  It’s easier to see the good in them and know that they’re doing the best they can.  It’s easier to see the beauty inside and out and know that even in hard times, their hearts are in the right place.  It’s easier to see their worth and value.  It’s easier to respect their differing views and beliefs.

So… why is it so hard to see any of that in myself.  I KNOW I’m a good person.  I KNOW I am intelligent.  I KNOW that I always try to do the right thing.  I KNOW that I love deeply and fiercely.  I KNOW that I am strong and that I am a survivor and fighter.

Yet, I never give myself credit for any of those things.  Even when I say that I know these things, do I believe it?  Sometimes, maybe I do.  Most often, I don’t think so, though.  I just don’t SEE it.  Why?  Why would I not put the same value in looking at myself that I do when looking at others?

The second thing I realized is that I don’t see myself the way that others see me.

When others tell me that I’m strong, or beautiful, or smart… or, anything good, I don’t see it myself.  When a friend encourages me and tells me how much they believe in me, I don’t have the same faith in myself.  Why?  Why can I not see what they see?  Do I just think they’re being kind and don’t really mean it?  I mean it when I say it to them.  Why would there be a reason to not believe they mean it when they say it to me?

Does everyone do that?

Do we all look at ourselves with such harshness?  Do we always have to be our own worst critics?

Here’s what I’m going to TRY to do.  I’m going to TRY to look at myself the way I look at others.  I’m going to TRY to not be so hard on myself.  I’m going to TRY to step back and see myself as though I’m looking at someone else.  What will I see?  Will I see that I’m a good friend?  I hope so.  Will I see that I’m a good person doing the best I can?  I’ll try.  Will I see that even with making dumb mistakes, I’ve tried to turn them around and make the best of things?  Maybe.

Are you able to see your worth?  Are you able to look at others and see their true value?

If we’re spending so much time judging each other, and ourselves, then when do we have time to just appreciate one another?  When do we have time to work together to be become better people?  How can we help each other be the best we can be if we’re so busy judging the negative?

We can’t.

But, we can work on it… together.

Will you try?


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